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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Devastation in Haiti
Aired January 13, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Here tonight from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the epicenter of this horrible earthquake which has struck here more than 24 hours ago.
Our correspondents have fanned out throughout the port city of Port-au-Prince throughout this day, bringing you the latest information as we have seen it through our eyes and as the Haitian people are experiencing it every minute.
Wherever you are watching this broadcast throughout the world, I hope you can hug a loved one close and thank God that you are not in Port-au-Prince tonight. But the Haitian people who are here want you to hear their stories. They want you to know what is happening here and what will be continuing to happen here through the days and the weeks ahead.
So, tonight, we want to bring you out into the streets behind me, out into the sorrow-soaked streets of Port-au-Prince, where we have seen a struggle of life and death happening all throughout the day, block by block, street by street, house by house, in many cases.
We just got some new video that was taken by a resident here of the immediate aftermath of the quake. This video, I'm told -- I haven't seen it myself -- it either occurred during the earthquake or the immediate aftermath. Let's take a quick look at some of what it was like when the earthquake struck. That was the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.
But what a lot of people, I think, don't realize, unless you are here, this is not -- this was not a one-time earthquake. This is not just something that occurred more than 24 hours ago. For the people here -- and a lot of them have come up and said this to me today -- it feels like it is continuing.
We have had several aftershocks, some of them quite strong, throughout the day. And every time that occurs, there are hundreds of people right now behind me, in the dark, sleeping in a public park, sleeping in the Central Park. They are also sleeping on soccer fields and elsewhere, because they can't go back into their homes, because, with these aftershocks, they are afraid that their already weakened homes are going to collapse upon them.
So, they are outside right now. And when an aftershock comes, it is a very eerie experience, because, after the aftershock, you hear people just out in the darkness crying and wailing, and, in some cases, even screaming.
There is a lot of fear on the streets of Port-au-Prince tonight. And we have seen a lot of sorrow all throughout the days, but also moments of remarkable heroism, of neighbors and family members literally digging through the rubble, trying to save their loved ones.
We haven't seen heavy earth-moving equipment. We haven't seen Haitian government response on any kind of large scale that is needed. And the international response, though we are told it is coming, we have not seen a huge impact on the streets at this point.
What we have seen, as I said, are incredible acts of heroism, and, in some cases, many acts of desperation as well.
I want to warn you, this is some of what I saw on the streets earlier today with my team when we got in here shortly after about 11:00 this morning. Some of the images you are going to see are graphic. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): For many trapped in the rubble of downtown Port-au-Prince, the struggle to live continues.
(on camera): We have heard there may be somebody who is alive buried in there. People on the streets say there is a 15-year-old who is buried alive there and that they are talking. But we are going to go and try and see if that is the case and if there is anything we can do.
But, I mean, the street, I have never seen anything like this. Look at this. It is just -- it is just complete devastation. This is downtown Port-au-Prince, just a few blocks from the presidential palace, just about a block from the national cathedral, which itself is pretty much destroyed.
(voice-over): Atop a pile of rubble that used to be a building, we find a small group of men who have been digging here for more than five hours to rescue a teenaged girl.
Her feet are the only part of her still visible.
(on camera): It turns out it's a 13-year-old girl trapped here. Her name is Bea (ph). She is clearly alive. You can hear her crying out. You can see two of her feet at this point. They have been able to...
COOPER: She is clearly in some pain. They discovered her early this morning. It is now a little past 12:00. And they're still digging. They are not clear how they are going to get her out. They only have this one shovel. They don't have any heavy earth-moving equipment.
They are being very careful about what they are moving. They are afraid if they move this big slab that seems to be on top of her that other stones, other pieces of cement could fall on her and crush her. So, they are actually kind of arguing over what to do next.
(voice-over): Bea's brothers can do nothing. He just stands by listening to his sister's cries.
This man says his father is also trapped in the building, but is already dead.
"I don't have a father anymore," he cries. "Gone. Had I been in the house, I wouldn't be here anymore either."
Worried more aftershocks may come and destroy the building even more, these family and friends work frantically. Finally, after being trapped for more than 18 hours, the men make a small hole and pull Bea out. She is alive. She is finally free.
(on camera): Did you think you would come out alive?
(voice-over): "I felt that I would live," she says. "I wasn't scared. I wasn't scared of anything. People were dying below me. I could hear them, but I wasn't scared. My heart didn't skip a beat."
"I heard them crying," she says. "I heard an old lady crying, 'God, I'm dying' last night. I heard my aunt running and a big block fell on her."
Bea's aunt at is dead. She and three others are covered in cloths and laid out on the street. (INAUDIBLE) her face.
(on camera): This man has lost four family members. He just showed me his wife's body, which is under a shroud. And he is now worried about another family member who is an American. And he believes she is trapped inside that building as well, and he is pretty sure she's dead.
(voice-over): There's no telling how long it will be before he knows for sure just how many people he has lost. This is just one building. This is just one block. The suffering here has just begun.
COOPER: A couple of notes about that piece.
The man gave me the name of the woman who he believes, the American woman he believes is dead. We didn't want to broadcast that on the air, in case some relatives are watching, but we have notified the State Department of that person's name. And we hope that information is dealt with -- and we are sure it will be -- by the State Department.
At this point, they are getting, I know, a lot of information about people who are missing, and they are trying to respond to that as best they can. There are American personnel on the ground, I should point out. I didn't mean to imply that there were not, but, in terms of large-scale, huge amounts of -- kind of international assistance, that is in the pipeline, we are told, and that will be a welcome sight, indeed.
I talk to President -- former President Bill Clinton a little bit later on, and he points out that one of the greatest needs is for search-and-rescue teams right now, because, as you saw in that piece, there are still people out there who are alive. And there are a lot of good people -- and we're going to talk to some from the Red Cross in a moment -- who are trying to do the best they can, and with the World Food Program and getting food aid in here.
But, again, this is very early hours. This is the first day. And the Haitian government has a lot of work to do, and the international community does as well.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta came into Port-au-Prince as well day. He spent a good day out on the streets. What he saw is simply shocking.
I want to also just tell you that that young girl, Bea, in that piece, she believes she broke her leg, and her family believes that as well. But she hasn't been able to get medical attention, because there are -- there are -- obviously, the medical system here is simply overwhelmed. And a broken leg on the scale of things that people have to deal with is, sadly, relatively low on the scale. So, hopefully, she will get attention when -- whenever it is possible.
We want to show you what -- some of what Sanjay saw out on the streets today. We are going to go to that a little bit later on. We are having some technical problems with that. Sanjay is going to join me in just a moment.
We're also going to show you what Gary Tuchman saw on the streets today in various locations throughout the port city here.
We are going to have all of that ahead. Stay tuned.
COOPER: And I'm joined now by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, you arrived earlier this morning.
I mean, have you ever seen anything like this out there?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No.
You know, what is interesting is that, typically, in these disasters, we come a couple days after even. This has been the earliest I think that I have seen things transpire. So, still having bodies in the streets, for example, that's just an astonishing thing to see.
And I think what's been so striking is, I don't see a real plan as to how to get those bodies out right now. I mean, we travel those streets. The streets are so crowded. So, I have never seen anything quite like this.
And I don't -- you know, from a medical standpoint, I'm not real sure what the plan is here.
COOPER: And there needs to be some sort of coordinated, orchestrated overall plan. And that is obviously one of the problems when you are operating in a country like Haiti, which has had a long history of a weak central government, which really hasn't had much impact on the lives of a lot of people.
GUPTA: Yes, I think that's a really important point. The infrastructure, to start with, as you and I have talked about in the past, is so poor as a starting point.
But, you know, this idea that you got supplies that came into the airport today -- when I landed today, there were big planes coming in, pallets...
COOPER: So, you saw big planes coming in?
GUPTA: We did.
COOPER: That's great, because, when I came in, in the morning, there was just a few choppers there. So, you are seeing large aircraft?
GUPTA: We did.
And I think there was some confusion, was the airport open, not open? By the time we landed, it was obviously open. And big aircrafts are coming in. But the problem is, getting those pallets from that airport to the people on the streets -- literally on the streets, still -- not even in the hospitals, has seemed impossible.
And we're talking about things like pain medication. Typically, at this stage in the game, you are thinking people are getting operations, should they need it; they're getting into the intensive care unit, should they need it. These people need pain medications for crush injuries in the streets.
COOPER: It is surreal when you drive down these streets or walk down these streets. At first, I didn't understand what I was looking at. I mean, I didn't realize this is a person lying dead on the street, and this is a person who, in some cases, has been covered in a shroud.
I saw maybe a 5- or 6-year-old child who had a half-a-cardboard box just kind of hastily placed over her. Your eye kind of adjusts to it. And, after a while -- I mean, it sounds horrific to say, but you kind of stop counting. I mean, I stopped at, I think, 30 or 35. And, after that, you just kind of keep on moving.
GUPTA: I was reminded of some your reporting down in New Orleans a few years ago. And that was the last time I think I saw images quite like that. It was the same thing.
I mean, is the person dead? Are they lying there? What was going on? Then, all of a sudden, you saw 25 bodies, some of which were bloated, already showing the signs of decomposition within a day out in this Haiti heat.
You know, it was -- as a doctor, it is just very disturbing. I think there is a tendency, a desire to go in and try and help. But you realize, there's many other people just sitting there staring, that it is a hopeless, if not helpless, situation.
COOPER: What I found so haunting, too, is, often, people are just passing the bodies, the dead people by, because they have seen so many. But family members are kind of standing around or sitting around the bodies, because they don't want to abandon them, and, yet, there is no place to -- as you said, to send them at this point. And there is no really place for those family members to go, because they don't want to go back into their homes and risk a collapse in some sort of an aftershock.
GUPTA: And, so, they are in plazas, just like behind us here, hundreds of people gathered.
I was so amazed. I think there's -- you believe that someone is going to come help. A large machine is going to show up to clear the rubble or do something like that. But, instead, as you saw, I mean, people, family members cleaning with their own hands and trying to rescue their family members out of the rubble.
GUPTA: Again, I don't -- what happens next? I'm not sure. I keep hearing...
COOPER: Yes. Well, it's interesting. I flew over Port-au- Prince today. The U.S. Embassy looks to be in great shape, and there's a lot of people in that embassy who are working very hard, not only to help the Americans who are on the ground here and account for those who are missing, but also help them get out and help get U.S. aid in here.
And, also, former President Clinton is obviously trying to coordinate U.N. aid. But, I mean, U.N. offices had been badly hit. The Red Cross office was badly hit, as we will talk to one of the Red Cross members here. They're -- they're -- at this point, as you say, you kind of wish that the Haitian government had some sort of a central plan.
I just saw a large contingent of Haitian police driving across on motorcycles and quads. That's at least a comforting sign, that they are out on the streets, because, as you know, at night here, it can get pretty dicey.
GUPTA: And just even over here, you know, people -- it is hard for people to understand, but we heard gunshots coming from this area just behind you not that long ago. And it was almost this idea that, for a while, it seemed like people were sort of stunned by what had happened.
Then, all of a sudden, they were sort of coming to their senses, and they were starting -- the violence that you might anticipate, that was starting to happen.
You know, I talked to the president of Haiti a little earlier today. He is homeless today. He pointed that out to me. His palace -- his has no place to sleep tonight. He is in fact sleeping in the airport, he told me, tonight.
But he also seemed really overwhelmed. I asked him at one point, I said, is this the worst thing, you think, that happened to Haiti? And he kind of put his hands to his head and gave me this look like, it has always been bad here, but this may in fact, be the worst thing.
GUPTA: And just -- it was an astonishing to see.
COOPER: Yes. And, again, difficult days ahead, to say the least. If those bodies remain on the street, if those people remain on the street, you know, disease, there's a lot of possibilities.
We are going to continue to coverage this. Our coverage continues. We're live all the way to the midnight hour tonight.
Our special coverage continues. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It is heartbreaking. On a major street here in Port-au- Prince by the airport, there's four people just laying dead on the side of the road. Two of them have been covered in sheets, as you can see. And two of them have just been covered with a cardboard box. One of them is a little -- a little girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And I'm joined now by Matt Marek with the American Red Cross.
Matt, you have been working here for eight years. Have you ever seen anything like this?
MATT MAREK, AMERICAN RED CROSS: No never.
COOPER: Can you -- want to just hold this up a little bit more.
What is the situation in your offices? You guys were badly hit, right?
MAREK: We were badly hit, for sure. I was in the office yesterday working late with a few of my staff when the earthquake struck. And the building is partially destroyed, for sure. COOPER: But you immediately got out there and did what you do could?
MAREK: Absolutely. My staff that was there, security guard, as well as a maintenance man, immediately gathered as much of the supplies that we had access to, and started to administer first aid to the population that were coming down from the (INAUDIBLE) on the mountainside.
COOPER: Because there were a lot of injuries, a lot of destruction up on the mountainside.
In terms of the big picture for the American Red Cross, what are you guys -- what is the focus right now?
MAREK: Right now, the focus is waiting on backup, waiting on resources. We have teams that are getting together in Santo Domingo, medical, telecoms, relief, response, and they should be here tomorrow with everything that they have.
COOPER: So, do you think we will be able to see a big difference on the streets tomorrow?
MAREK: No. No. The impact of what's happened here, it is going to take a lot more than just the ability and the movement of the International Red Cross movement for the people to find any relief.
COOPER: Do you coordinate with other groups and with the Haitian government? I mean, is there -- is there like a daily meeting where people say, you know what, the greatest need is in this area?
MAREK: Right now, coordination efforts on our part are limited to the Red Cross movement within the country, which the Haitian Red Cross, as well, works when they can with the Haitian government.
But, as we know, every institution in the Haitian government and any international presence has been affected by this.
COOPER: What does the American Red Cross need, I mean, from donors who are out there?
MAREK: Right now, what we need is everything to bring back livelihoods. I think President Clinton said it very well. There's a need for food. There's a need for water. We have to start thinking short-term and long-term.
We have got to start thinking camp management. And we have got a lot of hygiene and sanitation needs that are going to be coming up very quickly. We are going to need assistance certainly from the U.S. government to really control things down here, because I think, as the days get on, we have a risk of escalation of continued perhaps trouble, perhaps...
COOPER: Do you worry about just the security situation, I mean, as people get frustrated and upset?
MAREK: Certainly. We are not -- we're going to be able to help people less if the security situation worsens.
COOPER: Right. That's an important thing for people to recognize.
What is your -- in terms of what an individual can do who is watching right now, is it money that basically is the greatest thing?
MAREK: Absolutely. Absolutely. I don't -- I can't imagine the impact dollar-wise on this country right now, the loss to each individual. There have been plenty of lives lost that cannot be recuperated by the dollar.
COOPER: And there's not any businesses open, it seems like.
So, for people who want to buy food, or get food, or bottled water, or anything, it must be out there somewhere behind locked doors in businesses. But businesses are not open. Things aren't functioning.
MAREK: And, also, we have to realize that a lot of those businesses that were behind locked doors have also fallen to the ground as well.
COOPER: So, I mean, do you despair? I mean, how do you wake up every day and...
MAREK: You know, we have been doing what we can when we woke up yesterday and going around the clock. We just got to keep our, you know, focus and realize that, you know, our job, even though it is difficult, is to -- here to help as many people as we can as best we can with what we have.
COOPER: But a lot of people have said to me, residents here have said, you know what, we don't need big bags of rice. We need sandwiches. We need food which is actually...
MAREK: They need immediate stuff.
COOPER: Is that true?
MAREK: I think -- well, I think whatever -- whatever gives people comfort at this point, whatever they want.
A lot of the aid that we administered yesterday was more about comfort to a lot of people immediately, you know, experienced a lot of trauma, and, though, you know there were plenty of cases that we were not able to assist, that were beyond our capacity. But, certainly, we got the sense from the community, OK that we were there and that they appreciated that, and there was some calm.
However, that's -- that's temporary. I would continue to work, that, you know, whatever the community wants, we have got to continue to provide.
COOPER: We want to show our viewers some of the medical situations that people are dealing with here.
So, when we come back, Ivan Watson is going to take us to a medical clinic that he went to earlier today, just incredible scenes throughout the streets we have seen all day of people trying to get to clinics, trying to get to hospitals. But a lot of the medical facilities are just overwhelmed. We're going to show that our viewers.
Matt, we will talk to you again in the next hour. Really appreciate all your hard work. Thank you.
MAREK: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up, we are going to talk with former President Bill Clinton about what he is doing trying to coordinate U.N. relief efforts. Special -- President Clinton is a special envoy to Haiti. He has had a lot of experience here, spent a lot of time here over the years. We will have an interview coming up with him a little bit later on.
But I want to show you some of what Ivan Watson saw today out there on the streets of Port-au-Prince, in particular in some of the health clinics and hospitals that -- that he was going to. Take a look.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the reality of the situation here in Port-au-Prince. This is a small medical clinic. There are so many patients, so many victims of this earthquake that they are treating them in the halls and the entryway of the clinic.
And look here. We have wounded people waiting for treatment right now. Let's take a look at this woman right here.
This is Amelika (ph). She says that her leg is broken and she's been here since last night waiting for treatment. And she's not the only one. If we come and take a look over here, there are more wounded people and even the corpse of a small child who could not get treatment.
And it is just overwhelming to see over here the bodies of at least 13 people stacked up on the sidewalk right outside. We have seen these images elsewhere in this overwhelmed city right now. Doctors are telling me they don't have enough medicine to treat these patients. They don't have enough gas to run the generators, to run the medical machines to treat these patients.
And the people of Port-au-Prince are out in the streets, not in their homes, for fear that they, too, could become victims of this earthquake if the aftershocks bring down what's left of their homes.
Ivan Watson, CNN, Port-au-Prince, in Haiti.
COOPER: Ivan Watson joins me now.
So many people, you know, around the world take for granted access to something like pain medication. But, I mean, here, it is -- it's a luxury, more than anything, and in particular right now, as you just saw, the clinics stretched thin.
And one doctor, actually, as I was leaving her clinic, said, we need antibiotics.
I mean, these people have been pushed to the limit. The doctors were -- were desperate. They have been working all night. They have had people dying on the floors of their clinics. And they just don't have the supplies, even the fuel to run their generators right now.
COOPER: And something like a broken leg, I mean, that person was out waiting for some sort of help from last night. A broken leg really is pretty low down on the list in terms of what -- on the scale of suffering here.
WATSON: This is pretty gruesome, but right next to that woman was another woman whose foot had been ripped off. I mean, the...
COOPER: And she was just waiting? She...
WATSON: And she was laying there also from the proceeding night, next to the corpse of an infant.
We went to another place. There were more than 100 people laying in a parking lot, Anderson, right in front of a hotel. All they had was an EMT, and they were treating these desperate people.
And one man, he stopped and pulled me aside. He said, "Please, can you find a doctor for my son?" This kid, 9 years old, his eyes were puffed out like this, swollen. And people were dying right next to the -- there's just nothing that anybody can do.
COOPER: What do you do in a situation like this? I mean, it happens to all of us. But what do you do if someone says...
WATSON: It was heartbreaking. This is not a day that I will forget. And I just wonder how this city is going to recover from this. I mean, it is totally overwhelmed.
And I saw very little evidence of any state on the streets, any government on the streets of Port-au-Prince today.
COOPER: I mean, even in the best of times in Port-au-Prince, you don't see that, and certainly now.
And I wonder whether people here are just so used to that, they don't even expect it, or whether that's going to lead to a buildup of anger and resentment. I don't know to the answer in that. But we will see.
WATSON: We will have to watch and see.
Ivan, appreciate the reporting. Thanks very much.
Another difficult day ahead, no doubt, for -- for all the reporters here, but, also, of course, more importantly, for the people of Port-au-Prince.
Let's check in with Joe Johns, who has been looking at ways that the U.S. is trying to help and also ways that individuals can help right now around the world.
Joe, what have you found?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we've been really looking into what the U.S. is doing. It's just getting started. This is obviously a massive government-wide humanitarian effort. For those first 72 hours so critical, it's about one thing first and foremost: saving lives.
The president was briefed on all this tonight. We're told he's making it a top priority, but it could take days to have all the pieces in place because of all the logistical challenges that Haiti presents.
Started with a disaster assistance relief team doing the scouting. It's surveillance, data collection, prioritizing the sites that need attention first. Those so-called DART teams figure out where to guide the search and response teams when they get there. Urban search and rescue units you know already have arrived from Fairfax County, Virginia. More headed there from Miami and Los Angeles, bringing heavy equipment, which the Defense Department is using to help transport.
Some U.S. Coast Guard ships are also being sent, as well as the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, the Navy hospital ship Comfort also likely to be deployed. The Pentagon has a contingency plan, we're told to send a Marine expeditionary unit to handle everything from humanitarian concerns to security, if that becomes an issue. But it will take several days, we're told, before those assets are in place.
One huge concern is communications. It's always a problem in Haiti. The situation, of course, much worse now because the United Nations' headquarters of virtually demolished. The Pentagon is now sending its own communications equipment to help the relief effort.
Another question, of course is air transport. The airport in Port-au-Prince probably can't support all the air traffic that needs to get in there right now, and the only other airport in the country with a paved runway is on the north coast of Cape Haitian. I've been there, and it would seem like a good secondary option, except it's several hours' drive from Port-au-Prince. So, time is a factor.
One congressman I talked to tonight, Kendrick Meek of South Florida says the relief effort will have to seriously consider using both airports anyway.
So it's clear the U.S. is pulling out all the stops. Other countries pitching in, too, along with all the humanitarian groups, though it's going to take a lot of effort. And of course, as you know, a lot of money -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, no doubt about that. One of the things that the State Department here, the folks here are trying to do, of course, not only help Americans and get them -- get them evacuated when possible, but also just try to inform loved ones back in the United States. It is an overwhelming task, as you can imagine. There are so many Haitians who are Haitian-American who have connections with the United States.
We have so many people come up to us and say, you know, can you pass along a message to my loved one back home. And there's nothing more heartbreaking. You know, a man came up to me earlier today and said, you know, "Can you please call my wife and tell her I'm alive?" And it's the kind of thing we heard a lot of that in Katrina.
I just want to pass along one message. I talked to Suzanne Debrosse (ph), an American, and Jacque Debrosse (ph). They wanted their daughter, Melanie Debrosse (ph), to know that they are doing OK. They're safe. They have a place to sleep tonight, and they're doing as best they can. But they are safe and you know, they're doing -- they're doing OK. Just wanted to pass along one message, one from the many people that we heard from today.
Coming up after this break, we're going to show what Gary Tuchman saw on the streets of Port-au-Prince today in multiple locations throughout the city. An unbelievable sight he saw. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage, live from Port- au-Prince. We're going through all -- to the midnight hour here with our correspondents, who arrived, all of us arriving early today, having fanned out across this city. Because we really want to tell you what the Haitian people are experiencing. They want you to know their stories. They want you to know of their suffering and of their heroism and of their heartache tonight.
There's hundreds of people behind me right now behind us tonight in a public park. I flew over Port-au-Prince earlier today, and amidst the devastation, you see groups of hundreds of people camped out, not going home because they're afraid their homes are going to be destroyed.
Gary Tuchman has been with us, as well, all throughout the day, going -- fanning out across the city.
And you've seen that large clumps of people just sitting under a tree with nowhere else to go.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Upon reflecting on this day, I still can't believe what we've seen. I think a lot of our viewers presume we see so much tragedy in our jobs that we kind of get used to it. But we don't. It takes your breath away.
TUCHMAN: And if you walk out of the building that we're in right now, within five minutes, you would still see bodies on the street. You would still see the possibility of survivors in the rubble. We don't know if they're alive or not, because they don't have the machinery to check. People are still using their hands to try to get the rubble away to see if there are survivors.
I think the hardest thing I saw today, though, was with all the bodies on the streets, little children walking by with their parents, because they didn't have homes to go to, and the children looking so frightened when they saw these bodies on the streets. How will a child ever forget that?
TUCHMAN: We went to the worst neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince today. We went to the best neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, and it really was very disturbing.
TUCHMAN: On Tuesday, this was a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince with apartment buildings. Now, it's the worst devastation I've ever seen. This is worse than any horror movie I've ever seen.
You can see here, people looking for bodies of loved ones, loved ones who are missing. And as we're just walking past, we see bodies that are under the rocks that are obviously lifeless.
But what is horrifying is on the other side of the street. They've tried their best to give people killed some respect by putting sheets on top of their bodies, but this street is covered with people who died in the earthquake, and there's been nobody here to recover the bodies.
Perhaps, though, the most worrisome thing and the thing that concerns me the most and the thing that's upsetting the most is what's happening back here. And that is the search for possible survivors. There's not one rescue worker here, not one emergency worker. And most importantly, no equipment. People are digging by hand.
One man says he heard noises, but there's no way to lift up these heavy rocks. There's no way to lift up this heavy concrete if there's someone who is trapped, who is alive. What's so scary and horrifying as we walk down the street and see children who walk by these bodies and look so frightened when they see the bodies.
And one thing rescue workers are telling us, and the rescue workers are the civilians, like we said, but they're looking for the flies and the insects. You see the children as they're walking by. They're walking fast, their mothers shielding them, but they're looking anyway. But what people here are looking for are flies. They say when the flies fly over here, there may be survivors or human remains.
You hear some excitement right here, but it's not because they've seen a body but. It's because of some argument going on about how to proceed with the search for people.
But the sights here, the smells here are just unbelievable. This is just a situation that you can never possibly imagine, that nobody should ever have to endure.
This is one of the most beautiful parts of Port-au-Prince, and that's because this is where the presidential palace is. And this exemplifies this disaster. Look at what has happened to this beautiful building in the heart of downtown Port-au-Prince, destroyed from this earthquake.
And the area surrounding here normally has a lot of tourists, a lot of Haitians, like Americans who come to the White House to look through the gates of the White House. But most of the people here are now temporarily homeless, because most of the homes here in downtown Port-au-Prince have been destroyed.
And across the street, basically it has become a campsite. Not only are people here because they no longer have homes, but people are very scared about the aftershocks and afraid, if they do go in a structure that has just been damaged, that it can be destroyed. People don't want to go indoors, and that's why they are staying outdoors.
This is the third floor of a school. It's for small children during the day, continuing education for adults in the late afternoon and evening. Adults were in this classroom when the earthquake happened. You can see by just looking at the chairs and the hand bags and the books how quickly people had to escape.
The people inside this room survived. But the people in the other section of the school, just on this side, many of them did not. You can see the rubble, the open wall right here, and we see several bodies that are down there right now.
COOPER: Because of the lack of organization and lack of the Haitian government organization, there's no way to tell what kind of a death toll we're looking at, at this point. There have been a lot of estimates, but we're not trafficking in estimates or rumors. We just want to talk about facts.
In that school, do you know how many people perished?
TUCHMAN: We saw at least four people in the rubble. We saw another seven or eight people on the side of the street, their bodies with blankets over them. We were told by people near the school, many of whom were crying and wailing, that at least ten more people were missing. So that's the scene we see all over the country.
COOPER: And you basically just picked that street randomly. I mean, that's -- that's the horror of here. You can pick any street at complete random and come across something like that.
TUCHMAN: I mean, street after street after street after street, we saw the same thing: bodies being laid out, people searching for survivors.
COOPER: I just want to say again, you know, people have been literally handing me pieces of paper on the street all day with their names and the names of their loved ones back in the United States. They're desperate to get information.
So a man named Alfred Luckener (ph) wanted me to let his family in Brooklyn know that he's alive. Again, just passing along that message. Alfred Luckener (ph) is actually alive, for his family in Brooklyn.
But coming up, we're going to talk to former president Bill Clinton what he is doing, trying to help coordinate the U.N. relief efforts. The U.N. was badly hurt here, but they have a long history on -- in Haiti.
We'll also go out onto the streets of Port-au-Prince with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and see what he saw earlier today.
COOPER: On a day like today in Port-au-Prince, for all of us as reporters at CNN, you don't want to -- you don't want to leave the streets, because there's so many stories. And there are so many stories you want to tell and let people know what is going on here.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta spent a lot of time all over Port-au-Prince today. One of the areas he went to was near Cite Soleil, just outside there. This is what he saw.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right here in downtown Port-au-Prince, that's where we see all the ramifications of what we've been talking about for the last day: buildings like this completely crumbled. And as you might imagine, lots of people devastated and have died as a result of that.
I mean, there are just bodies lying in the street. So this is what people have been talking about. I did not think I would see what I am showing you now. It's a dead body right here. And if you look over here, it gets even worse than maybe you could possibly imagine. Twenty-five more bodies, people standing around completely helpless, perhaps hopeless, as well.
I have, as a doctor, a journalist, traveled around the world. I've never seen anything quite like this.
COOPER: It's just hard to believe. I mean, you can see it -- street after street and, yet, it's still hard to fathom.
In terms of health risks, what is the concern about having people, dead people out on the streets for so long?
GUPTA: This comes up a lot every time we have reported one of these natural disasters. What ' interesting is that, when someone has died, the body has died, organisms, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, they don't want to live in a dead body anymore. So in fact, the dead body is not as much of an epidemic or pandemic risk as one might think.
What can be problematic is that those dead bodies become something that can be a source of contamination for the water supply. So pretty dry today, Anderson. But if it starts to rain over the next couple of weeks, a week even, that could potentially be a problem. That's something health officials are certainly concerned about.
COOPER: And, I mean, in the sun, in these conditions, you know, Gary Tuchman's piece, he was saying that a lot of people in the neighborhoods are searching for flies. But in a day or two, it's smells that are going to be drawing people to these bodies.
GUPTA: There's no question. Decomposition happens quickly. And you know, we already saw it. The first thing that happens, if you actually can physically see the body, you see the bloating that is often associated with decomposition.
But you're absolutely right, the smell is going to be the thing that is part of the recovery mission. They're still very much in rescue mission now, as you know, trying to rescue people out of -- out of these buildings, but as it goes into more of a recovery mission that's going to be one of the -- one of the clues.
COOPER: All day today I was thinking about this FEMA body recovery team that I worked with in Waveland, Mississippi, right after -- and I -- all day I was just thinking, man, I wish they were here. Because those guys did such an amazing job and were so professional. And there was such a need. And I know I talked to President Clinton about this and we're going to play that interview in a moment.
It's one of the things he said is coming. You know, folks from all around the world, recovery teams from all around the world and search and rescue teams. But it is desperately needed here in the days ahead. And I think we're going to see a lot -- a lot of those kind of rescues. You actually talked to -- with the president of Haiti today?
GUPTA: I did. And what was interesting was that that sense of urgency which you just conveyed and President Clinton probably conveyed, and we're talking about minutes, hours making a difference here.
I talked to President Preval and sat down, talked to him specifically about how he found out about this, what he did immediately in the aftermath of his finding out and what his plan was.
And what was interesting is that he has that sense of urgency as well, but he doesn't have the resources to get things done. So he's thankful to a lot of other countries. But right now, you know, he wants those minutes and hours. He wants things transpiring. This is specifically what he said.
GUPTA: What are you doing here at the airport?
PRESIDENT RENE PREVAL, HAITI: My house collapsed.
GUPTA: So you don't have a home?
PREVAL: But it tells me that I cannot live here because it is not safe. So I'm going home.
GUPTA: You're going to go back to your home? Are you able to live in the palace or is it completely destroyed?
PREVAL: I cannot live in the palace. I cannot live in my own house. They both collapsed.
GUPTA: Where are you going to go tonight?
PREVAL: I don't know.
GUPTA: It's striking, the president of this country doesn't know where he's going to sleep tonight.
PREVAL: No I-- I have plenty of time to look for a bed, but now I am working it rescue the people, but sleeping is not a problem.
COOPER: That was Haiti's president, Rene Preval.
You know, there's traditionally a lot of stories of enmity between the Haitians and Dominicans. I actually flew over here on a chopper with the minister from the government in the Dominican Republic, who was sent by the president of the Dominican Republic to try to assess the needs, try and see what they could do. He was trying to get as many heavy earth-moving equipment machines in here as possible, as quickly as possible, and also there's a lot of Dominican businessmen who are doing business here who are giving their equipment to -- you know, to do what they can. So a lot of cooperation, which is certainly nice to see, and it's certainly going to be needed a lot in the coming days.
I also talked to former President Bill Clinton about U.N. coordination. I just want to tell you, it's a little strange interview. I actually have a satellite phone up to my ear. Extremely difficult technical challenges we're facing, especially earlier in the day before we had some of our generators here. So that's why I'm holding a phone up to my ear during this interview. But take a look.
COOPER: Mr. President, what do you think the greatest needs on the ground are here, and what sort of aid is in the pipeline?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the greatest needs from the point of view of government support are for more search and rescue teams and more medical teams. We just need the help. We've got to go through, and we need more helicopters because some of the roads are closed.
And we need to get the moving equipment, the earth-moving equipment that the Haitians have in play and then some more from the Dominican Republic and elsewhere to clear out the big debris and free up as many roads as possible.
COOPER: I understand the Haitian government bought about 200 heavy, earth-moving pieces of machinery about two years ago, but it's spread all throughout the country. And I can tell own the streets of Port-au-Prince today, in downtown Port-au-Prince, I hardly saw any heavy, earth-moving equipment at all. And obviously, I know there's some coming from the Dominican Republic, and they've been very quick on the response there.
In terms of the Haitian people, they have been through so much, as you well know, because you have been here often. They are survivors. Can they survive this?
CLINTON: Oh, sure they can, but right now, they're really hurting. I mean, we have no earthly idea how many people have died from this. There are all kinds of numbers are being thrown around, but the truth is nobody knows.
And what we have to do is to help them survive by saving as many lives as possible, trying to preserve with some dignity those who have died so they can be identified by their loved ones and properly buried, and then trying to help those who have been injured.
COOPER: That was former President Bill Clinton.
An odd thing is happening right now. There are about 100 people who have been sleeping in the park behind us. All of a sudden, they just started running, so there are now dozens of people just running down this main street behind us. We've been yelling out (FOREIGN PHRASE), which is "What's happening?" in Creole. People are saying water, flooding.
But my sense is, and again, I don't know exactly what is going on. But rumors here spread like wildfire. There's a rumor earlier in the day that there was going to be another major earthquake this evening. And people were gripped in fear about it, that we were told by meteorologists it was not going to occur, although there have been a number of aftershocks.
So again, we're trying to figure out what is going on here. But this is the kind of thing that a small rumor can spread and can literally lead to people -- lead to people dying. I saw a woman tripping, breaking things. People are literally now just running down the street and doesn't seem to be letting up at all.
And as far as we can tell, we're not exactly sure what's going on. Are you hearing anything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
COOPER: It's a very strange situation. Again, there's just a lot of fear right now here in Port-au-Prince. A lot of fear here in Port-au-Prince.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a flood.
COOPER: It's a flood? They're saying that there's some sort of a flood, but again, I can't tell what's real and what's not. Can you find out -- try to find out where the flooding allegedly is? We're trying to find out what's going on. We're going to take a short break.
Our coverage here will continue. We'll try to find out what it is. I don't want to lead to -- you know, again, spread more rumors. This could just be -- it's getting ugly down there.
I don't know -- can we get our camera over here? I'm not sure. We'll try to do this. We'll take a quick break. We'll come right back.
COOPER: OK, there's a very strange situation here occurring. There are hundreds of people literally running. When we talked to them and asked them what's going on, some say they're afraid of water coming. Others say somebody is handing out water. What do you think is going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we first saw some people running by and asked why they were running, a lot of people just immediately yelled water, water, water, assuming they were going for relief. But this is obviously something further down closer -- we're facing the direction of the ocean.
And I know a lot of the individuals for a while over the past 24 hours have been thinking about tsunami. I know it's been out there. That's, from what our understanding is, that is not necessarily a threat at this point.
COOPER: Right. The tsunami warnings were canceled?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were canceled. However, the fact that we've got thousands moving, there's got to be something. I don't know if it's the backup or -- we're on the plane right here, too.
COOPER: Right. Can you -- are we on this camera? If you can -- I don't know if you can just move in and just kind of show some of what's going on. These are hundreds, if not a few thousand people who have been in the park, although this is more than just the people who were in the park. These are people coming from other -- some other part of town.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, we're looking on the Shop Moss (ph), all right, which is Haiti's biggest park here in Port-au-Prince and thousands of people camping out here since yesterday. This is obviously a problem. We've got this guy, a few people climbing the tree to safety. Anything that's going to move this mass of people, there has to be a significant threat.
COOPER: We're also seeing people dropping their possessions in the street, which given the scarcity of supplies right now, shows that people are scared. And look, here's somebody, it looks like being carried in a sheet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely. This is -- I don't know if we're just in a little bit of chaos or if there is a significant threat down there. But people are reacting in a way that they just want to save their lives, and their possessions aren't important at this point.
COOPER: And something like this, I mean, people can get seriously hurt?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly. We've got -- I mean -- this is -- again, this adds to the threats that we're talking about we've got to make sure everybody stays calm. The more chaos there is, the less help that we're going to be able to give the population.
COOPER: Situations here can deteriorate very rapidly. And crowds, when you get a crowd moving in this kind of thing, I mean, they can change on a dime. I remember being here back in '94 when there was some rioting going on. And I mean, it would get very dicey, very quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. As early as 2008, the hurricane seasons we experienced, the provinces, similar, you know, chaos and they can get dicey very quickly. It's a very unpredictable population when, you know, there's a threat involved.
COOPER: Normally, one would expect a police presence to come in and kind of try to calm people, but we're not seeing that here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think as we said earlier, you know, all the institutions have been affected, you know, significantly. I don't think we can expect, you know, much of a presence by any of the institutions, including the national police. We saw them pass earlier, which was a great initiative, you know, just out there in the street, doing what they can, try to keep, you know, some sort of order. And that's respected once they're traveling in groups like that, too.
But right now, not even the presence of the national police at its capacity -- full capacity can control what's -- actually, we're seeing here.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break, try to figure out more of what's going on. Our coverage continues in a moment. We're live all the way to midnight.
COOPER: And welcome back. We are live in Port-au-Prince. We're going to be live all through this hour.
A very strange situation is developing here with Matt Marek (ph) from the American Red Cross. In the park, the public park behind us, where hundreds of people have been sleeping, camping out since this earthquake struck, because they have no place else to go, all of a sudden, about ten minutes ago, perhaps, some people just started running. Some people started yelling water. We thought initially they thought water was being handed out.
Now we're hearing people saying that there is some sort of a flood. But again, Matt, A, there's no evidence of that. And most of the people who are saying that haven't actually seen any water. So this, in all likelihood, is some sort of a rumor that has just spread amongst very scared people. Because now people -- look, they're moving back in the other direction.